Exempts home school students from immunization requirements, applicable to students attending nursery school, preschool, or K-12

State: TN
Bill Number: HB 252/SB 644
Position: SUPPORT
Action Required: NONE
Status: ENACTED, HB 252 was signed by Governor Bill Lee on 4/28/2023, effective date 4/28/2023, Public Chapter 296

Legislation Details:

UPDATE: 4/28/2023 – HB 252 was signed by GovernorBill Lee. It goes into effect on 4/28/2023. Public Chapter 296.

The final version amends Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-5001 so it will not apply to home schools as defined in § 49-6-3050 and Section 49-6-3050(b)(7) is deleted.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-3050(b)(7), is amended by deleting the subdivision.

SECTION 2. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-5001, is amended by adding the following as a new subsection:

As used in this section, "school", "nursery school", "kindergarten", "preschool" or "child care facility" does not include a home school as defined in § 49-6-3050.

SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it

 

Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-5001 will not apply to home schools as defined in § 49-6-3050 and Section 49-6-3050(b)(7) is deleted.

49-6-5001. General provisions.

(a) The commissioner of health is authorized to designate diseases against which children must be immunized prior to attendance at any school, nursery school, kindergarten, preschool or child care facility of this state.

(b)

(1) It is the responsibility of the parents or guardian of children to have their children immunized, as required by subsection (a).

(2) Except as provided in subdivision (b)(3), in the absence of an epidemic or immediate threat of an epidemic, this section does not apply to any child whose parent or guardian files with school authorities a signed, written statement that the immunization and other preventive measures conflict with the parent's or guardian's religious tenets and practices, affirmed under the penalties of perjury.

(3) This section does not apply to an immunization, vaccination, or injection for the SARS-CoV-2 virus or any variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

(c)

(1) No children shall be permitted to attend any public school, nursery school, kindergarten, preschool or child care facility until proof of immunization is given the admissions officer of the school, nursery school, kindergarten, preschool or child care facility except as provided in subsection (b).

(2) No child shall be denied admission to any school or school facility if the child has not been immunized due to medical reasons if the child has a written statement from the child's doctor excusing the child from the immunization.

(3) No child or youth determined to be homeless shall be denied admission to any school or school facility if the child or youth has not yet been immunized or is unable to produce immunization records due to being homeless. The enrolling school shall comply with any and all federal laws pertaining to the educational rights of homeless children and youth, including the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 11431 et seq.).

(d) Each child attending any school, nursery school, kindergarten, preschool or child care facility without furnishing proof of immunization or exception under subsection (b) or (e), shall not be counted in the average daily attendance of students for the distribution of state school funds.

(e) Any immunization specified under this part shall not be required if a qualified physician certifies that administration of the immunization would be in any manner harmful to the child involved.

(f) The commissioner shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out this section.

(g) By October 1 of each year, the commissioner shall report the number of children in the state during the preceding school year who were determined to be homeless and who enrolled in public schools without being immunized or being able to produce immunization records and the average length of time required for these children to be immunized or to obtain their immunization records. The report shall be submitted to the education committee of the senate and the education administration committee of the house of representatives.

(h) Any communication provided to students or parents by any school, nursery school, kindergarten, preschool, or child care facility of this state regarding immunization requirements must include information on the grounds for exemption from the immunization requirement pursuant to subsections (c) and (e). The exemption information and immunization requirements must be:

(1) Provided in the same font size and style; and

(2) Located on the same page of the written or digital communication.

 

49-6-3050. Home schools.

(1) A “home school” is a school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or a legal guardian or guardians for their own children. Public school facilities may be used by home school participants with the approval of the principal of the school, but this permissive authority shall not be construed to confer any right upon the participants to use public school facilities. If approved, use shall be in accordance with rules established by the local board of education.

(2)

(A) Home schools that teach kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12), where the parents are associated with and where students are enrolled with a church-related school, as defined by § 49-50-801, that are supervised by the church-related school's director and that administer or offer standardized achievement tests, are exempt from this section.

(B) Parent-teachers who register with an organization, as defined by § 49-50-801, for conducting a home school for students in grades nine through twelve (9-12) must possess at least a high school diploma, GED®, or HiSET®.

(3) A parent-teacher may enroll the parent's home school student or students in a church-related school, as defined in § 49-50-801, and participate as a teacher in that church-related school. Such parent-teacher shall be subject to the requirements established by the church-related school for home school teachers and exempt from the rest of this section.

 

Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3050

Section 49-6-3050(b)(7) is deleted:

(b) Except for home schools operated under subdivision (a)(2) or (a)(3), a parent-teacher conducting a home school shall comply with the following requirements:

(7) Proof shall be submitted to the local director of schools that the home school student has been vaccinated as required by § 49-6-5001 and has received any other health services or examinations as may be required by law generally for children in this state


UPDATE: 4/18/2023 - HB 252 was transmitted to the Governor to sign.

UPDATE: 4/10/2023 - HB 252 was enrolled and ready for the signature of the Speaker of the House.

UPDATE: 4/6/2023 - HB 252 (substituted for S 644) passed the Full Senate by a vote of 25 Yes, 5 No. 

UPDATE: 4/6/2023 - SB 644 was placed on Senate Regular Calendar for 4/6/2023 after being substituted for HB 252. The Senate Amendment 1 was withdrawn. 

UPDATE: 3/29/2023 - SB 644 was amended in the  Senate Education Committee on 3/29/2023 and recommended for passage by a vote of 7 Yes, 2 No. It was then referred to the Senate Calendar Committee. The amendment adds the following:

If a home school student participates in an LEA-sponsored interscholastic activity or event or an LEA-sponsored extracurricular activity, then the LEA may request and receive proof that the student received a health service or examination that is required for the LEA's students to participate in the activity or event by law generally.

In 2013, Tennessee passed legislation granting students homeschooled under a local education agency (LEA) full access to participation in interscholastic athletics. As required by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), the director of schools must confer with the parents to determine that the student is academically eligible. Other basic requirements must also be met. See TSSAA Home School Rule and Tennessee Statute §49-6-3050(e). Students homeschooled through church schools are not included.   

Under this local education sponsored interscholastic activity or event exclusion in the amendment, homeschooled students participating in a local education (LEA)-sponsored interscholastic activity or event or an LEA-sponsored extracurricular activity may still be required to show proof of vaccination to participate in those activities.  

The bill has nothing to do with vaccine exemptions, but strictly addresses the reporting requirement currently in place. The video of the hearing can be seen here. The amendment does not change NVIC's support of the bill because it is a step in the right direction, but NVIC's position is that we are opposed to vaccine mandates and would prefer that vaccine mandates be removed for all children attending school: public, private, and homeschool, as well as for any local education (LEA)-sponsored interscholastic activity or event or an LEA-sponsored extracurricular activity.  

UPDATE: 3/22/2023 - SB 644 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, 3/29/2023 at 12:30 pm in the Cordell Hall Building, Senate Hearing Room I. The agenda is here

UPDATE: 3/15/2023 - SB 644 was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, 3/22/2023 at 3:00 pm in the Cordell Hall Building, Senate Hearing Room I. The agenda is here. The action was later deferred.

UPDATE: 3/15/2023 - SB 644 was deferred in the 3/15/2023 Senate Education Committee to 3/22/2023.

UPDATE: 3/8/2023 - SB 644 is scheduled in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, 3/15/2023 at 12:00 pm in Senate Hearing Room I. The agenda can be viewed here.

UPDATE: 3/6/2023 - HB 252 was received in the Senate from the House and passed on First Consideration.

UPDATE: 3/2/2023 - HB 252 passed the House on 3/2/2023 by a vote of 68 Yes, 25 No and was engrossed in the House.

UPDATE: 3/1/2023 - SB 644 was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, 3/8/2023 at 3:00 pm in the Cordell Hull Building, Senate Hearing Room I. Agenda: https://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/113/ScheduleDocs/e6ad9cf2-5ac8-4f6a-8bca-15ac74c880f1.pdf  (The 3/8/2023 hearing for SB 644 was changed to 3/15/2023.)

UPDATE: 2/27/2023 - HB 252 is on the calendar for the full House on 3/2/2023.

UPDATE: 2/23/2023 - HB 252 is on the calendar for the full House on 2/27/2023.

UPDATE: 2/15/2023 - HB 252 was recommended for passage if amended by the House Education Administration Committee by a voice vote on 2/15/2023. View hearing video/audio HERE. (Discussion for HB 252 starts at 00:21:34)  

The amendment would add the following:

If a home school student participates in an LEA-sponsored interscholastic activity or event or an LEA-sponsored extracurricular activity, then the LEA may request and receive proof that the student received a health service or examination that is required for the LEA's students to participate in the activity or event by law generally

UPDATE: 2/8/2023 - HB 252 was scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Administration Committee on Wednesday, 2/15/2023 at 1:30 pm in House Hearing Room I. Agenda: https://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/videocalendars/VideoCalendarOrders.aspx?CalendarID=30201&GA=113.

UPDATE: 2/7/2023 - HB 252 was recommended for pass by the K-12 Subcommittee and referred to the House Education Administration Committee on 2/7/2023.

UPDATE: 2/2/2023 - SB 644  was referred to the Senate Education Committee on 2/2/2023. 

UPDATE: 2/1/2023 - HB 252 was scheduled for a hearing in the K-12 Subcommittee of the House Education Administration Committee on Tuesday, 2/7/2023 at 4:30 pm in the House Hearing Room 2. Agenda see page 19: https://capitol.tn.gov/Bills/113/Calendars/2023-2-6_SubcommH.pdf 

UPDATE: 1/24/2023 - HB 252 was referred to the K-12 Subcommittee of the House Education Administration Committee

UPDATE: 1/21/2023 - HB 252 was referred to the House Education Administration Committee on 1/21/2023.

HB 252 was introduced on 1/20/2022 by Representative Jody Barrett.  SB 644 was introduced on 1/30/3023 by Senator Joey Hensley

These bills exempt home school students from the immunization requirements applicable to students attending a school, nursery school, kindergarten, preschool, or child care facility and removes the requirement for parent-teachers of a home school student provide proof of the student's immunizations to the local education agency. These bills:

NVIC takes no position on sections of the bill that do not relate to vaccines. 

The act would take effect upon becoming a law. 

https://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/default.aspx?BillNumber=HB0252&GA=113 - text, status, and history of HB 252

https://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=SB0644&GA=113 - text, status, and history of SB 644